First 2014 West Nile cases found in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Department of Health identified the state’s first two cases of West Nile Virus in 2014 Tuesday, according to a press release.

The two victims of the disease are a 24-year-old female in Muskingum County and a 78-year-old female in Cuyahoga County. Both are in the hospital with encephalitis, which is the primary way people become infected with the West Nile Virus, according to the release.

“We could possibly see a growing number of human cases of the West Nile Virus infection and positive mosquito samples throughout the state,” ODH State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary DiOrio said.  “Ohioans should remain vigilant and take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites.”

ODH began accepting mosquitoes for identification and testing from our local cooperating agencies starting July 14. The ODH lab has identified 120 mosquitoes as testing positive for West Nile plus another 10 positives reported by local health departments. The relatively low infection rates may be influenced by the low temperatures and rainfall this year.

Here are some tips to avoid possible infection from mosquito bites:

  1. If you are outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, be sure to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks.
  2. Light colors are least attractive to mosquitoes.
  3. Use insect repellent and follow the label directions.

Here are some tips to eliminate mosquito breeding sites near your home:

  1. Remove water-holding containers, such as tin cans and unused flower pots.
  2. Eliminate standing water.
  3. Make sure all roof gutters are properly draining and clean.
  4. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.

Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile Virus do not show any symptoms at all, but officials say there is no way to know in advance if an infection will develop. Those who do develop symptoms usually do so between three to 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.

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